We are the go-to place for local content: Michael Mason

The ABC’s Director Regional & Local says recent changes to metropolitan and regional radio stations have been part of a larger plan to better engage with audiences on a variety of platforms.

In an article written for radioinfo, he acknowledges  some pain after changes made to the 2018 schedule, but argues it is part of a wider strategy of engagement by the national broadcaster

“Fundamentally, the 2018 schedule changes were made because as the ABC, our job is to be relevant to Australians. We have to anticipate and meet the demographic, social and media usage trends that shape Australia. That’s our job and is absolutely critical to making quality radio that is part of the day to day lives of a large number of Australians.

“We know the changes we have made are significant and that for our audience there are some big adjustments in 2018. Introducing new presenters is always a challenge. It’s a balancing act between risking upsetting listeners who have built a relationship with a particular presenter over many years and introducing new voices which is part of the necessary evolution that keeps a radio network relevant.”  

His article has been written to coincide with the Navigating The News media literacy conference being held in Hobart this week (see our other coverage here). He also spoke in detail to radioinfo on the side of that conference, and you can view the video of that interview with Steve Ahern below.

Research conducted by Joce Nettlefold, released at the conference, made a series of recommendations for media and teachers to work together in building better media literacy for Australians, particularly those of school and university age, by better media literacy education and improved support for media literacy from responsible credible media. Those recommendations will be explored this week across ABC Radio and TV programs.

ABC Resources on Media LIteracy:
Media Literacy Week
Questioning the News
Digital News Report
Michael Mason spoke about media literacy, and about the priorities for ABC Radio in coming months.

On Media Literacy:

“People understanding the sources of news, particularly in a social media world, knowing who they can trust and can’t is a key part of a good civil society… On ABC Radio we are doing interviews, packages and streaming media literacy content on our platforms.”

On changes in structure for ABC Radio:

“The ABC was traditionally structured around platforms… these changes reflect the way people now use the media, whcih is less and less around just one platform, but around digital platforms. So we wanted to restructure away from just platforms into genres…

“Regional and Local is geograhical, but also the specialist knowledge we have about local communities is a genre… That’s what we bring to the table. We have reshaped into far more than just radio stations, we call them bureaux now, because besides radio content they are spending much more time generating great regional content for a national or state audience, with greater stronger local stories on line… Voices and issues facing regional people are getting more coverage than ever before.”

New managers for metropolitan radio stations:

“We have had great leadership for many years, but when they left we had big shoes to fill… we have challenges in local radio and we are a key part of bringing big audiences to connect with the ABC. The real challenge is to keep those numbers growing… so we need to hold the numbers we have and ensure our content is celebrated and enjoyed by a wide cross section of Australians in our big cities.

“That’s their job, to make sure there is the right mix of content, telling the big stories of our cities and working with our newsroom to deliver those key stories. They’ve got a tough job ahead of them… I have confidence in the team…

“We will see evolution of how programs change, but the key focus is not so much programs changing but making sure we have the right editorial mix in our programs…”

The AM Band:

“Being on the AM Band is a challenge. There is no question in my mind that being on AM is a platform but also a brand in itself in a way that also has perceptions around it… being for older people in a perception way… There has been a 20% drop over the last five years… so being on AM does throw up challenges for our talk sevices.”


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